Ashtanga vinyasa is a hatha yoga practice based on the Yoga Korunta and oral teachings transmitted to Pattabhi Jois from the great yoga master Krishnamacharya whose lineage can be traced back to the ninth century.
An Ashtanga class starts with the sun salutation, a cardiovascular exercise which involves a very dynamic series of forward and backward bending movements. This exercise heats up the body and awakens vital energy.
One then practices a sequence of yoga postures with an emphasis on three elements:
- Bandha: internal contractions to lock in and concentrate the vital energy
- Ujjayi: a sustained, powerful breathing technique
- Drishti: a specific point of visual focus during the posture
Each posture is held for a certain number of breaths before practicing a vinyasa - a sequence of movement synchronised with the breath - to maintain the dynamic flow of vital energy.
Due to the fiery nature of this practice, one tends to feel completely purified and energized throughout every cell of the body and also the mind.
After the sequence of yoga postures, one sits to practice the control of the vital energy through pranayama - various breathing techniques. One calms down and focuses on the inflow, retention, and outflow of the breath and its consequent subtle influence on the movement of the vital energy within.
Finally, one lies down and falls into savasana - a very deep relaxation - since there is nothing left than to let go of all remaining tensions and surrender, which in turn induces a state of vitality and joy.
"I feel much better and I don't remember when was the last time I slept so well. It is tough, but it is worth it!" - T.J.
Download the illustrated primary and second sequences.
"I want to thank you for your yoga classes that give me lots of energy and joie de vivre." - M.B.
For more detailed information on Ashtanga Yoga, read here.